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Should I Try the Google APIs?

written by: •edited by: Brian Nelson•updated: 10/11/2010

So, you are a web developer. Well, then, how would you like to add some of those robust features like you see on the corporate sites? You know what I'm talking about; maps, search engines, analysis tools or even a calendar. This article gives insight to what Google APIs and Google Code can offer.

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    APIs are Ready to Integrate

    Google Code is an umbrella term for a series of AJAX APIs (Asynchronous JavaScript and XML Application Programming Interface). AJAX is a method for creating dynamic web content using Document Object Models (DOM), XHTML, XML and JavaScript to make the content more interactive and responsive. NOTE: To use the APIs you have to register at http://code.google.com.

    AJAX is what allows the Google APIs to work with your web content independent of your scripting language. In most cases inclusion of the API is a simple copy and paste operation. The Google Web Toolkit (GWT) is available for those who wish to refine or mashup APIs. There are several flavors of the GWT and you should be able to find a version that works on your platform. Yes, the GWT is platform specific but its output is JavaScript. GWT a topic for another article on another day. More information can be found at http://code.google.com/webtoolkit.

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    Code Service is Cross Platform

    As I mentioned, the APIs are platform and language independent. You could easily move it from one web-server to another without modification. The page and code can be created on a Linux machine and posted on a .NET platform. The key is to allow the browser to do the rendering and avoid making system specific calls. Remember that each browser has its own way of displaying things and some of the Google APIs may not function at all in some browsers. Make sure to check the documentation for the API you plan to use and test and test again using multiple browsers at different resolutions.

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    Your Code Easily Controls the APIs

    "Google's AJAX APIs let you implement rich, dynamic web sites entirely in JavaScript and HTML. You can add a map to your site, a dynamic search box, or download feeds with just a few lines of JavaScript." (http://code.google.com/more/#products-products-ajax 10/15/2009) The nice thing about APIs is that you can pass specific values to them to get the results you seek. Need a map that shows your location? You can use Google Maps API and have your script pass the latitude and longitude of your business for the center point. You can enter a start and end point and have your map pan from one to the other. Other APIs are just as simple to manipulate.

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    There are Plenty of Tested Samples

    So there you have it, an introduction to the Google Code realm and how simple it is to implement robust content on your site. In addition to the examples you can find at http://code.google.com, there are examples throughout the Internet world. Many of these have been up and running for sometime; tested through hundreds and thousands of hits. You should be able to find an implementation that is close to your needs. In that vein, continue to watch this channel for additional "how-to" articles for adding Google Code elements to your web. - bkc